Toyota Racing – NASCAR Cup Series NHMS Quotes – Christopher Bell- 06.21.24

Information By: SAM MAHONEY / TOYOTA RACING – LOUDON, NH – Joe Gibbs Racing driver Christopher Bell was made available to the media prior to practice for the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Friday.

CHRISTOPHER BELL, No. 20 Rheem Toyota Camry XSE, Joe Gibbs Racing

What do you attribute all of the success at New Hampshire to?
“It is a very special stat, and a special opportunity I have in front of me to make it four-for-four. What I attribute it to is great cars, great teams, great pit crews, great crew chiefs. In NASCAR racing, in general, it is extremely hard because of how many people that have influence on the result. If one guy makes a mistake on your team, then you are not going to win the race and three times, it has happened where all of us pulled the rope in the same direction, and nobody made a mistake. I understand doing it for a fourth time is a tall ask, but I’m excited as a challenge.”

Would you consider this a pretty big accomplishment?

“It is awesome. I don’t think about it outside of one week a year – but it is certainly something that I’m proud of.”

Are you good to go without practice and qualifying?

“Yeah, I think I would be probably in favor of that. I know the metric has us lining up fourth, and with how the flat tracks and the short track package has been for our team, I feel like we would be really competitive right off the bat. We would have a great starting spot, more importantly, a great pit selection if it rains out, but if not, I will go out there and try to qualify for the pole. Either way, I’m completely content with.”

Are you comfortable with the new procedure if we are approaching darkness?

“I’m very, very glad that it is black and white now. There is a rule in place. It is just ironic – at Chicago and at Loudon – both times, I think those are the only two times in recent times that darkness has hindered the race, and I’ve been one of the prime culprits of it. I’m very, very happy that there is a black and white rule now, and it is nice to not have a guessing game. It is what it is.”

It’s better to race to a time versus a lap?

“I think either way is fine, as long as you know it ahead of time. Specifically, at Chicago, the race strategy was heavily dictated on the race end lap, and guys in the back half of the field just took a 100% gamble on what NASCAR was going to do, and it rewarded them because they won on the gamble, and the guys that were trying to race the race properly – to the full distance – got bit by it. Now, at least, if that situation comes up, we will all know that the race is getting white flagged at X time on the clock. I think having a black and white rule is always good.”

Does your success here make you more excited to come here?

“It definitely has me excited about the opportunity to continue my Xfinity streak and get another Cup win, but I can’t stress enough how hard it is to win any NASCAR race – with everything that goes on during the event, everyone has to do their job on the entire team, while I do have confidence that we are going to show up and we are going to have speed, and I’m going to be able to get around the race track at a good pace, that doesn’t mean success by any means. I’m confident that we are going to be in contention, and have a shot at it, but everything has to go right in order to win.”

Do you feel like you will need to take a bigger leadership role at Joe Gibbs Racing next year with Martin’s retirement from full-time competition?

“That is a good question, and honestly, I don’t really know if there is any leadership from the driver’s standpoint. Certainly, from when we get into our competition meetings, the more guys with experience will, I guess, take the role of steering the ship as far as what we need in the race cars and stuff like that. I have definitely grown in confidence telling the team what we need inside of our cars, with experience, but week-in and week-out, a different guy may lead the discussion. Every time we go into our Monday meetings, it could be whoever has a good race that week. Plenty of times it has been Ty (Gibbs), plenty of times it has been Martin (Truex) or me or Denny (Hamlin). I don’t think there really is a leadership role in that aspect, and whenever we have a new driver into the 19 car, whoever that is, their experience level will dictate how much input they will have in the team.”

Is this the time of year where you expect the racing to get more intense with people racing for the last few Playoff berths?

“This is definitely the time of year where people start thinking about the Playoff positions. If you look outside the cutline, it is very, very intense. There is a lot of talented cars and teams that are on the outside looking in, and it is going to be a battle. It is going to be a battle all of the way to the end, and the more guys that win outside the cutline, is going to make it even tighter and tighter.”

Is there any real benefit in racing on Saturday and Sunday now or are the cars too different?

“I think the advantage from Saturday to Sunday is pretty much gone. The cars are completely different, the shift patterns are completely different and the way that they react in corner – it is almost completely irrelevant from Saturday to Sunday. It is just about enjoyment and track time and it is very hard to take anything from Saturday to Sunday.”